LINCOLN SQUARE — Freshman Ald. Andre Vasquez (40th) endorsed Rep. Jesús “Chuy” García for mayor this week.
Vasquez announced his support of García in a series of tweets Wednesday. He cited a Wednesday poll from the Sun-Times, WBEZ, Telemundo Chicago and NBC5 showing Mayor Lori Lightfoot trailing behind García and former CPS CEO Paul Vallas.
“My goal is making sure that you don’t get a Lightfoot or a Vallas on the fifth floor,” Vasquez told Block Club. “I think Chuy is the best chance of us getting that accomplished.”
Election Day is Feb. 28. If no candidate receives at least 50 percent of the vote, the top two finishers will go to a runoff April 4.
Vasquez cited García’s LGBTQ rights and transportation platforms as reasons for his endorsement. Like other aldermen who have lined up behind Lightfoot’s opponents, Vasquez also criticized her style of working with others, saying García would be a more collaborative leader in City Hall.
García was 22nd Ward alderman 1986-1993. He was an ally to then-Mayor Harold Washington, including toward the end of the infamous Council Wars, which means the veteran politician knows what it’s like to be in a fractured legislative body, Vasquez said.
“The reason he and Harold Washington were there was their ability to build coalitions,” Vasquez said.
Vasquez, who was elected in 2019 as part of the progressive slate of candidates, has had a mixed record with Lightfoot.
Vasquez joined the council’s six-member socialist caucus in voting against Lightfoot’s first budget, saying it underfunded mental health programs and other critical social services.
But the following year, the socialist group moved to boot Vasquez for voting in favor of the mayor’s budget.
Vasquez acknowledged Lightfoot has faced challenges during her term, including the pandemic, civil unrest, an economic downturn and a push from some City Council members to be more independent from the mayor.
“To be fair, I believe Mayor Lightfoot has gotten one of the worst hands dealt to her of any mayor in the history of Chicago,” Vasquez said. “There are a lot of challenges she’s had to go through. I’ll also say that she’s gotten a lot of unfair judgment because she’s a woman, Black, LGBTQ, as well.”
Still, Vasquez said Lightfoot has a combative leadership style, a pattern of cutting alderpeople out of critical decisions and a habit of clashing with other elected officials where she takes disagreements as “personal affronts” that lead to “isolationist” behavior, he said.
During a hearing early in the pandemic, Vasquez asked Lightfoot to give alderpeople regular updates on proposals to help residents who lost jobs and were struggling to pay rent.
Lightfoot criticized then rejected the request, ProPublica reported at the time.
“That’s not the way a government should work. Right? We don’t need mayors that are lifting bridges. We need mayors that are building bridges, and that was not what we experienced in the first term,” Vasquez said.
Vasquez intervened when Lightfoot introduced the controversial 15-year ComEd franchise agreement into City Council earlier this month. Vasquez moved to send the legislation to the Rules Committee, where legislation typically stalls or dies, and questioned why it was being considered less than a month before the election.
Vasquez said at the time he thought the terms of the proposed deal were too long.
Vasquez joins a growing list of sitting aldermen choosing one of Lightfoot’s opponents for Chicago’s top office.
The mayor still enjoys support from council members, but several longtime allies and committee chairs have chosen to back García, Vallas or county Commissioner Brandon Johnson.
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